by Prof V N Pandit

"three recent experiences...


Click to enlarge above photo
Aum Sri Sai Ram
Precious Memories

This Easter Sunday, April 24th, 2011 marked the end of a glorious chapter in human history. For, it was on this auspicious day early in the morning at 7.40 a.m. that Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, God-incarnate for this Kali age gave up His physical form and merged back into Divine Enlightenment, engulfing the entire manifest world into inconsolable grief. Every time I sat there looking at the Divine body my mind kept going back to the late thirties and seeing in front of me a tender school boy, in a poor village, who had only one pair of shirt and shorts which he washed every evening to be worn again next morning for the school.

If the shirts needed a stitch it was done by putting in place a longish thorn across threads. A few years later the same school boy was on the stage performing a marvelous dance with no one in the overjoyed audience suspecting that it was not the young girl dancer who was invited to put up the performance. Since the noted dancer failed to show up little Sathya agreed to be the substitute.

The tenderly built Sathyanarayana Raju grew up to declare at the young age of 14 that He was God incarnate the Avatar of this Kali Yuga who had assumed human form to spread the message of Love across the world by undertaking incredible tasks which got completed with perfection in all aspects. He taught humanity that it must rise from religion to spirituality the common bottom line for all faiths. Spirituality itself was declared to be nothing other than pure love in action to serve humanity. For every human being had God as the in-dweller.

There are three outstanding examples He has set for us all, be they be involved in governments in power, business houses social organizations of all kinds and above all, the common individuals from all walks of life. Being all powerful God He could have merely willed things to happen and there these would be. But, to set there as examples of what human endeavor can accomplish He toiled hard at the human level investing His time, physical effort, meticulous planning, proper anticipation and above all His unlimited wealth of Love in every venture He undertook. His divine effort went in several directions.

The meticulous way Swami took care of all details, howsoever, trivial these may have appeared to us, was to be witnessed to be believed.
The third thought that came to me about the young school boy relates to that historic date October 20, 1940 when at the tender age of 14 He threw away His books and left the home declaring that He had come on a great mission for the welfare of humanity and His devotees were waiting for Him. What happened over the seven decades step by step, systematically and with unimaginable determination is now history and universally known. Yet, it is tempting to recall some of the developments.

The first of these has been healthcare which started as early as 1954 when Swami was merely 28 years old. It was in that year that He, as a first priority, laid the foundation stone for a general hospital in Puttaparthi. The only facility that existed then by way of health care was a tiny poorly equipped government dispensary at Bukkapatnum. The general hospital started functioning in 1957 and is today taking care of over 500 patients belonging to the nearly villages everyday. In particular over the recent years the hospital has saved lakhs of lives of young women and newborn children by providing timely and appropriate natal care.

Everything is totally free – complicated tests, medicines, providing life saving drips, food and all that. Unlike anywhere else there is no billing department.
This initial venture serving the poor villagers without any restriction totally free has now grown into a massive system which includes two super speciality hospitals two general
hospitals have come to be the last resort for poor people from all parts of India and many from abroad. These facilities are equipped with the latest devices and with competent doctors capable of dealing with incredibly difficult problems. On top of all this is the perfectly equipped mobile hospitals for villagers who do not even have the time and resources to come over to Puttaparthi and a mother and child health care van which is a boon for young women and children.

The set of colleges inaugurated in the late sixties onwards have now grown into a small but impressive university, with four campuses. Wedded to a system of education which gives the highest priority to the cultivation of human values this university has become a model for universal replication. The fact that highest quality of academic pursuits have gone hand in hand with imbibing the commitment of service to society has earned it the highest rating from the UGC and its evaluation agency NAAC. The largest privately built safe drinking water projects, covering Anantapur, Medak and Kurnool districts, tribal belts of East and West Godavari and Chennai city are ones which no governments were able to undertake or even consider undertaking seriously.

At the personal level, three recent experiences have frequently and repeatedly flashed in my mind. First, relates to March 23, in Yajur Mandir when Bhagawan was about to retire after dinner. All devotees had an excellent darshan that evening. Since this happened to be a day of special significance to me, I very much wished to have a word with Swami.

 I was also invited to a meeting of the Research Advisory Committee of the Madras School of Economics on Saturday, 26th March I wanted to take Swami’s blessing and permission to attend before I confirmed my travel plans. I was thus motivated to proceed towards Bhagawan who was about to be taken into the elevator. Somehow, I was not able only to seek permission to proceed to Chennai. He appeared to approve my proceeding to Chennai but did not register properly, I felt. In any case, as I was about to move back, Swami gestured to me to stay where I was and hinted to the boys to bring the bowl containing Vibhuti packets. I was overjoyed to be blessed with a few packets and moved back. That was not all. Everyone present in the room was called one by one and blessed with a few packets of Vibhuti. As they later tried to convey their thanks to me for praying to Swami for Vibhti Prasadam I had to clarify that it had come to all of us including me as a special blessing, without my having requested for it. Little did we realize that at the physical mortal level this was His last divine gift to all of us.

The second experience I recall is what occurred on Friday, March 25th. At the end of a marvelous Darshan we all had that day we walked with Bhagawan back to Yajur Mandir. When Swami was retiring I thoughts of once again praying for His permission to proceed to Chennai the next morning. As I stood close to Him in front of the elevator I mentioned that I had to go to Chennai for a night for an official meeting. He listened and enquired about the meeting and about my return. He even held my hand with a good grip and I was able to kiss the Divine Hands. He conveyed his blessings for the trip unlike what had happened two days earlier. Since Swami did not come down at all for the next two days, it is my feeling that my interaction with Him on 25th March would have been the last with any ‘devotee’ leaving aside His personal attendants.

The third experience relates to Monday, March 28th. I was home trying to sort out some papers when there seemed to be some commotion along the road close to our room. My wife stepped out and hurried back to say that an ambulance van had moved into Yajur Mandir. Hearing this I got ready quickly and called Prof. Venkataraman to say that Swami was likely to be taken to the Super Speciality Hospital. Meanwhile as I stepped out I saw the ambulance moving out of this area. Luckily, Prof. Venkataraman arrived shortly and both of us drove in his car towards the SSSIHMS by the special western gate. Since we could move fast and the ambulance was to move slow, we were able to catch up with it fairly quickly and be there when Bhagawan was being taken out of the ambulance, still on the wheelchair. I was fairly close and in front when He was being taken out. As He looked up I, and presumably some others with me, were blessed with a beautiful smile which will remain a treasured memory in my heart for ever.